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Blind Kansas Statehouse Snack Shop Owner Can’t Compete With Free Lobbyist Food

Stephen Koranda
Don Wistuba in his snack shop in the Kansas Statehouse.

For nearly 40 years, Don Wistuba has been running the snack bar at the Kansas Statehouse. Making cash transactions is part of the job and it doesn't seem to be a big deal for Wistuba either, even though he's blind.

But his business will come to a close at the end of the month.After four decades of serving lawmakers and capitol visitors, he's calling it quits.

Wistuba says he’s not getting enough business during the legislative session and free food from lobbyists is part of the problem. KPR’s Stephen Koranda spoke with him about how he started in the business and why he’s closing down.

The blind vendor has been a fixture at the Legislature for the past 40 years, but he says competition from lobbyists, who provide free food and drink to state lawmakers, is pushing him to close his shop. Wistuba says he’s relying on his faith to help him plan his next move.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.